WASHINGTON (AP) _ A few hours before Mark McGwire hit his record 63rd homer Tuesday night, the House congratulated both McGwire and Sammy Sosa for surpassing the 61 hit by Roger Maris in 1961.

The House, by voice vote, passed a resolution, calling McGwire an ``inspiration to the youth of America and the world and baseball fans everywhere.''

``At all times he was ... a first-rate role model,'' Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said from the House floor. ``Mark McGwire has at all times conducted himself both as a gentleman and as a true sportsman.''

The House passed a similar measure by voice vote congratulating Sosa, saying he ``has proven to be an outstanding role model and source of pride for all residents of his native country, as well as all Latin Americans and all immigrants to the U.S. from across the globe.''

``Today we honor two true sportsmen,'' said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.

``Sammy Sosa deserves the respect and admiration of all baseball fans for his great athletic achievement, but moreover for the brave and dignified manner in which he has conducted himself at all times,'' Mica said.